Spring Training is here and, yet, there are several unresolved issues the St. Louis Cardinals still face. Many fans are still talking about a certain free agent and whether the St. Louis Cardinals should actively pursue him. There are a couple of contract extensions still lurking and it seems the discussion has suddenly disappeared. Finally, I have concerns about a certain young outfielder and a dreaded sophomore slump.
Admittedly, these are random and somewhat unrelated issues, but the off season discussion on these topics continues into spring training. Some of these issues may only be my concerns and others, I wish we could move on from. Additionally, some of these issues may be resolved before the completion of spring training.
Nevertheless, in this piece I will address them, but unlikely will I resolve them. I know these are not the only issues surrounding the Cardinals, but just some I want to address. Let's get on with it.
The Free Agent and the Mystery Team
Honestly, I'm tired of reading whether the Cardinals are going to sign this guy or not. In fact, I said in December, I wouldn't write about or discuss this certain free agent anymore. So I won't mention his name in this piece
However, the talk of the Cardinals pursuing this particular free agent won't go away and many fans will not give up on the St.Louis Cardinals trying to sign him. Since January, according to this player's agent, there is a 'Mystery Team" involved in the negotiations. Obviously, an attempt by this agent to keep the Phillies bidding against themselves, but that's just my opinion.
John Mozeliak has said, in no uncertain terms, the Cardinals are not involved in the negotiations for this free agent and have moved onward. The Cardinals President of Baseball Operations, often talks in such coded language that the King James Version of the Bible is often easier to understand. But in this case his statements have been clear, the St.Louis Cardinals are not pursuing this FA.
So let's move on and forget about the Cardinals being his landing spot. It's not happening. Personally, I believe the Phillies will make this guy and his agent rich... or maybe the Yankees.
A Couple of Contract Extensions
Unlike the FA, I don't mind mentioning Paul Goldschmidt's name, since he will be a Cardinal in 2019. The contract extension for Paul Goldschmidt became a hot topic as soon as the Cardinals traded for him in December. But lately, the contract extension rumors have, much like D.B. Cooper, disappeared.
John Mozeliak has stated clearly the Cardinals would like to discuss a new contract with him, but Goldy won't discuss a timetable for an extension to be completed. Although, Goldy has said all the right things about being in St. Louis, I now have reservations he will sign before he hits free agency.
At 31, this is Paul Goldschmidt's last chance for a big payday. If he has a typical Paul Goldschmidt year, he could command more money if he waits to discuss a new contract after the end of 2019. And that's where I'm at now with the Goldschmidt extension. I believe he will not sign with the Cardinals before he tests free agency.
The other contract extension that has been on many Cardinal fans mind is with MIles Mikolas. The 'Lizard KIng' is at the end of a two year, $15.5 million contract. This right handed starter has stated he would like to discuss an extension, and it is believed discussions are going on between the Cards and MIkolas' agent.
I believe the 30 year old Mikolas is looking for at least a four year deal and the Cardinals are trying to not go more than three. The dollars can be worked out, but the length of the contract will be the sticking point between the two sides. At this point, I don't have a feel if Mikolas will sign before the end of spring training or will eventually test free agency.
A Sophomore Slump
My last concern going into Spring Training is a possible sophomore slump by Harrison Bader. In 2018, the rookie outfielder, hit a slash line of .264/.344/.422 and played gold glove caliber center field.
As well as Bader played in 2018, I believe there should be concern for the dreaded sophomore slump. There is some recent history of slumps after an outstanding year by a young Cardinal player. Aledmys Diaz and Stephen Piscotty are two examples.
Aledmys Diaz was called to action in 2016 after injuries to Jhonny Peralta and other backups. A true rookie, Diaz, surprised and impressed by hitting a slash line of .300/.369/.510 with 17 HR, 65 RBI in 111 games, and earning an All Star appearance. But in 2017, Diaz, played in only 79 games and eventually demoted to AAA after hitting a slash line of .259/..290/.392. His home runs fell to seven and his RBI production dropped off to 20. He was then traded to the Blue Jays in the off season.
Stephen PIscotty, while not a rookie, had an impressive 2016 by hitting a slash line of .273/.343/.457, with 22 HR and 85 RBI in 153 games. But in 2017, Piscotty's production dropped off significantly. Although, it may be have been due to family issues, Piscotty played in only 107 games. His home runs fell to nine and his RBI dropped off to 39, while his slash line was only.235/.342/.367. Stephen Piscotty was traded to Oakland before the 2017 season.
Harrison Bader may not have the experience of Alemdys Diaz and Stephen Piscotty during his sophomore season as a starter, but the concern is there for me. His rise as the starting centerfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals was rather unexpected, although certainly not unearned.
Can Harrison Bader match or exceed 2018? Even though the Cardinals are loaded with outfield prospects,centerfield will be his to lose in 2019. I hope my concerns are goundless, but we'll see.
These are just some of my random concerns and thoughts going into Spring Training. There are certainly other concerns that include the rotation, the bullpen, and right field.
What are your concerns as the St. Louis Cardinals enter Spring Training? Let us know. Be sure to read some of the good pieces by our other writers and give us feedback. Thanks for reading and you may follow me @frrobinson1957.